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Instant Links to New Customers — Online Ads

December 12, 2009

Internet search advertising is one of the fastest-growing outlets for businesses of all sizes.  And no wonder.  Thanks to the convergence of search engine technology and high-speed Internet connections, customers in search of information about a particular product or service can have literally hundreds of answers in seconds. Businesses who want added visibility often invest in small, text-only ads that appear atop or alongside the search engine results.  Such ads are ideal for small businesses, as they offer tremendous flexibility to control costs and can be tailored to specific search keywords such as geographic area or a specific product/service.

Internet ads also allow small business owners to test various marketing approaches almost instantly.  For example, florists can quickly change from prom to wedding season or an air conditioning service can exploit an early heat wave.  What’s more, results from these types of ads can be tracked, and return on investment measured in tremendous detail never available with traditional print types of advertising.

If your business uses a Web site to sell or market products and services, online marketing will be critical to your success. Targeted ads attached to keyword search results are the clear winner among Web-based marketing methods. Their simplicity, low cost and popularity among small businesses have pushed flashy banners aside as the main method for connecting buyers and merchants online.

Best of all, Internet advertising is relatively simple to implement.  In the two most popular search ad outlets—Google AdWords at www.google.com/ads and Yahoo! Search Marketing at http://searchmarketing.yahoo.com, you bid on the keywords or phrases for your campaigns. The higher the bid, the higher your ad will be listed in the paid results.  You pay only when someone clicks your ad and visits your site. A prospect that reads your brief ad but doesn’t click it costs you nothing.

Both Google and Yahoo have built-in tools to help you monitor track the effectiveness of your Internet ad campaign. One important statistic is the “click-through rate”—how often the ad is clicked in proportion to how often it appears. Ads with high rates are obviously good; low-rated ads should probably be modified or deleted to maximize cost-effectiveness. In addition, Google also offers free “Google Analytics” that can help analyze your Web site statistics

To learn more about marketing your small business on the Web, contact Lancaster SCORE, “Mentors to America’s Small Business.” Lancaster SCORE has more than 50 volunteer business executives who provide free, confidential business counseling, and training workshops, to small business owners. Call us at 717-397-3092 or find us online at  www.scorelancaster.org.

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